Our plan A didn’t push through last Friday. We were supposed to go to Lulu Island, only to find out that it’s indefinitely closed due to renovation (this one honestly looks like a virgin island and the government is planning to get this fully commercialized). What a timing. Good thing I’ve already visited this twice last year. Better yet, although we never had a solid back up plan there are other nearby nice beaches to serve as plans B, C and so forth.
Admittedly I never thought that UAE (Abu Dhabi in particular) has a bountiful of bodies of water. Innocent, beautiful and gratis. If not, entry is within reach. I thought many times of opportunity cost. Don’t they want to profit from these? Alam mo naman sa Pilipinas, basta pwedeng pagkakitaan hindi palalampasin. So it came. Unlike last year when we dropped by after my birthday celebration, Corniche Beach now has an (reasonable) entrance fee. Not only that, only families and ladies are allowed entry.
The government is taking precaution for the sort of “visual harassment”. A few probably will get in just to do girl watching (and/or boy watching?), body watching in particular. And that’s a huge offense already in this part of the world. So this beach rule goes, but has flaw.
In general, a group of male is not allowed entry. But they found a means. I observed that they would approach a group of ladies or family (at least of the same nationality) and will pretend that they are related to each other. Also, there are couples which are of course not subjected to scrutiny if they are married or not. These gave me the impression that they allow entry for those whom the gatekeepers think are a set of people who either can protect each other or have no capacity or intention to (this one’s very judgmental) be abusive. But despite these flaws in implementation, these are countered by having roaming guards to call unnecessary activity at once.
You might have thought that swimwear has extreme restrictions. Not much. The recently issued (and however not strictly implemented) dress code last month is only applicable within the boundaries of Dubai. Given that there are multi-cultural residents here, extremity in beach wear is a common observation. Some groups go to the beach fully coated. Generally, Indians are wearing their traditional dress, female locals are wearing their abayas, with very few and rare exception. While most of the expatriates wear the seemingly shrinking two-piece beach suits (even the Filipinos, but you’d never find one who wears terno). I even spotted a skin tone piece, I really thought she’s naked. You can just imagine when two different worlds meet at the beach. They will surely feel discomfort with each other at first. But varied cultural orientation is something not be laughed about, but respected.
It is also good that there are no food restrictions. We got to bring (pork) sisig and mangga’t bagoong in particular. While we munched on these smelly edibles (as they view it), especially the sinful bite (i.e. pork), the other groups savoured their most exotic curries, kebab, and other fusion of food which is distinct to other nationalities.
It is also interesting to observe which mostly consumed the time of beach goers: reading books/listening to the music/sleeping while getting their tan, eating, playing PSP and other gadgets, chatting, and other things as long as it’s decent. What’s more interesting is how different worlds treated the sunshine rays between 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. While one group wanted to hide in wherever they can, the rest are enjoying the sunshine unmindful of the skin cancer.
Bottom line is each one generally went to the beach to enjoy the sun, water and sand. Despite the differences, no discomfort is too big as long as you have sense of respect. And yes, wherever you go.